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About Henry Taylor
Under Garrett's tutelage, Taylor finished his first book of poems, The Horse Show at Midnight, during his final semester at Virginia. It was accepted by LSU Press over the summer, and published in the spring of 1966, a few weeks before Taylor finished his Master's in Creative Writing at Hollins College, where he worked with R. H. W. Dillard, Louis Rubin, and William Jay Smith.
He was fortunate to be able to start teaching in the fall of 1966, at Roanoke College. During two years there he began to learn the craft of teaching first-year composition and upper-level creative writing. In collaboration with the student Ed Tedeschi, he founded The Roanoke Review, which continues today as an online magazine.
In 1968 took an assistant professorship at the University of Utah, where he was able to specialize more fully in the teaching of creative writing, in a department of English whose collegiality and cordial energy were delightfully astonishing to him. At the end of his third year there, however, he was approached by Larry McMurtry, who wondered whether Taylor would be interested in filling the position McMurtry's resignation had created at American University. He took up an Associate Professorship there in the fall of 1971, and retired as a Professor in 2003, having been involved in the creation of the MFA program in creative writing, and having published his next half-dozen books and many articles and reviews. In 1986 his fourth collection, The Flying Change, received the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
Many opportunities arose from this honor. Not surprisingly, Taylor gave more readings around the country than he had before. He also had a chance to cover the Cannes Film Festival in 1986 and 1987, writing for The Washington Times, where he had been reviewing books for several years. In January of 1987 he spent several weeks in Egypt and India on the State Department's Ampart program. This honor was bestowed on him by Barry Jacobs, who had been Taylor's roommate their first year at Virginia, and who in 1986 occupied the State Department's North India desk.
In 2002 Taylor married Mooshe Taylor, and then in 2003 he retired from teaching. After a couple of years in Bethesda, Maryland, they moved to Gig Harbor, Washington, and stayed there for ten years. In 2006 Taylor published his seventh collection of poems, Crooked Run, which is composed of poems arising from his life in Loudoun County.
In 2015, the Taylors moved from Gig Harbor to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they live now. In August of 2020, Taylor's longtime publisher, LSU Press, brought out his This Tilted World Is Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1962-2020. It contains seventy-five poems selected from his previous books, and twenty-five more recent poems collected for the first time.
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Henry Taylor’s poems in The Flying Change embrace a wide range of subjects and tones. Taylor’s concern with the rural anecdote, demonstrated in his two earlier books of poetry, The Horse Show at Midnight and An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards, is here broadened to include not only funny stories called “snapshots” but also extended meditations on change and death.
Several of these poems take up the dark themes of the world’s randomness and our helplessness in the face of unforseen disasters. In “Landscape with Tractor,” the mundane task of mowing a field is interrupted by the discovery of a decaying corpse. In other poems Taylor treats similarly macabre situations with an undertone of dark humor, as when he writes of inviting the lightning in while bathing during a thunderstorm.
Throughout, Taylor combines everyday speech with careful control of form. In the title poem, “The Flying Change,” he explores the equestrian term literally and metaphorically.
but for a moment the shifting world suspends
its flight and leans toward the sun once more,
as if to interrupt its mindless plunge
through works and days that will not come again.
I hold myself immobile in the bright air,
sustained in time astride the flying change.
The poems in this collection are sometimes disturbing, sometimes gentle and peaceful. They are all the work of a poet who writes carefully and thoughtfully.
The poems in Crooked Run arise from the landscape, people, and history of a small patch of rural northern Virginia that was once Henry Taylor's home. Taylor moves back and forth over several centuries telling the stories of Loudoun County, part of which is watered by Crooked Run. The stream becomes an emblem of passing time as the poet evokes with love, sometimes with regret, a period and place that modern development has almost obliterated. This is a deeply felt work that in the midst of suburban development summons earlier eras of a locale and its inhabitants with sadness, humor, and a profound sense of loss.
Collected here for the first time in the series are four major works by Euripides all set in Athens: Hippoltos, translated by Robert Bagg, a dramatic interpretation of the tragedy of Phaidra; Suppliant Women, translated by Rosanna Warren and Steven Scully, a powerful examination of the human psyche; Ion, translated by W. S. Di Piero and Peter Burian, a complex enactment of the changing relations between the human and divine orders; and The Children of Herakles, translated by Henry Taylor and Robert A. Brooks, a descriptive tale of the descendants of Herakles and their journey home. These four tragedies were originally avialble as single volumes. This volume retains the informative introductions and explanatory notes of the original editions and adds a single combines glossary and Greek line numbers.